2012: CONE WINS INAUGURAL US MATCH PLAY TITLE
Dustin Cone, from Port St. Lucie, Florida, topped Mark Harman, Ridgeland, South Carolina, in a thrilling final match, 2&1, to become the first winner of the United States Match Play Championship, held at Indian Hills Golf Course in Fort Pierce, Florida, May 7-9.
Cone opened with five birdies in the first seven holes, and made the turn with a 5-up lead. His medal score would have been a 5-under 31. After halving the 10th hole, Harman then went on a tear of his own, birdieing four of the next five holes to cut Cone’s lead to 1-up after 15. The 16th was halved, and Cone parred the par-3 17th. Harman had a five-footer to extend the match, but the putt lipped out, giving Cone the championship. Through the 17 holes, Cone’s medal score would have been -5, and Harman would have carded -3.
Cone entered the match play portion of the event as the number three seed, but soon showed that he would be a major force. He dispatched Robert Kleabir, Stuart, Florda, 5&3 in the quarterfinals to set up a semi-final match with the #2 seed, Jonathan Sprague of Pompano Beach, Florida. Cone’s play was too much for Sprague to overcome, as the match ended with a score of 6&5. Sprague previously defeated Ken Medeiros of Massachusetts 5&4 in another quarterfinal match.
Harman, who received a bye in the quarterfinals due to his earning the #1 seed in stroke play qualifying, earned his way to the finals with a 3&2 victory over Eric Hammer of Melbourne, Florida, in the other semi-final match. Hammer previously took out USGTF president Geoff Bryant in a 1-up nail-biter in a quarterfinal match.
Cone plans to play an extensive schedule of tournament golf this summer, and looks forward to defending his title in 2013.